I'm supposed to be studying for my law school finals, and instead I just spent two days devouring three Spider Robinson novels. So what I'm saying is, I spent the time constructively.
The other two are ones I'd already read, so never mind them. I'd been intending to get around to this one ever since it was published in August and just hadn't had time. So I finally made some.
Spider is in terrific form here. I can't tell you much about the story without spoiling it, so I'll keep my remarks general.
The tale centers on an extremely intelligent twelve-year-old boy named Mike, who may remind the reader both of Thorby in Robert Heinlein's _Citizen of the Galaxy_ and of Horty in Theodore Sturgeon's _The Dreaming Jewels_. The homage is deliberate, of course.
The plot is delightful. Mike hides away in Dreamworld, a magical theme park of the near future created by one Thomas Immega (presumably a descendant or other relative of the roboticist Guy Immega to whom _Callahan's Key_ is dedicated). Dreamworld is inspired by Disneyland but has rides and other features based on the works of e.g. Heinlein and the Beatles.
Its major rival is the violent Thrillworld. (The contrast is typical Spider, and I mean that as a compliment. If _you_ could make there be magic in the world, which sort would you pick? Black magic or white? Thrills or dreams? The manic pursuit of pleasure or the quiet possession of joy?) Thrillworld is headed by the nasty Alonzo Haines, who would very much like to destroy Dreamworld.
Anyway, Mike disappears into Dreamworld and almost at once hooks up with Annie, a middle-aged midget who has been hiding there for a while herself. Pretty soon interesting things start to happen, and not just because of Alonzo Haines. And that's about all I can tell you without giving too much away.
I _can_ tell you that the tale is Robinson at his humane and witty best. As usual, he includes at least one scene that will give you the creeping horrids; not many writers do this with Robinson's skill, as it takes a very high degree of empathy to create psychological tension without relying on gimmicks. And the reader familiar with Robinson's other novels will recognize _some_ familiar themes.
In short, readers who like Robinson already will find this a very satisfying tale. And readers who aren't already familiar with his work could profitably start here.
I hope some readers _will_ start here -- or somewhere -- because I really like all of Robinson's fiction. In general it's not only satisfying and entertaining SF, it's also a healthy dose of hope.